Karen's favorite spaghetti with meatballs

Our editor-in-chief Karen has always been a smidge intimidated by the holy grail of Italian dishes, spaghetti with meatballs. But this fall, she decided to conquer it—and did she ever! She snagged Chef Patrick McKee’s favorite family recipe from the Tasting Table and went to town. You can, too! Here’s how:  



Makes 4 servings



½ lb ground beef (80 percent lean)

¼ lb ground veal

¼ lb ground pork

1 large egg

¼ lb Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated

½ of a medium yellow onion, finely chopped (chop the entire onion, use half for meatballs, half for sauce, below)

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

¼ of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

½ tsp kosher salt

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp to ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil



2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Pinch of red pepper flakes

½ cup of dry white wine (ask your parents for help on this one!)

3 thyme sprigs

1 dried bay leaf

1 15-ounce box or can of chopped tomatoes

1 6-ounce can of tomato paste

½ cup basil leaves, finely chopped



2 tbsp kosher salt

1 lb of spaghetti

¼ lb Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, ¼ pound, finely grated

½ cup basil leaves, roughly chopped


1. Make the meatballs: In a medium mixing bowl, combine the ground meat, egg, cheese, onion, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Use your hands to mix the ingredients together until thoroughly combined, then form into 16 balls (each a little larger than a golf ball). Place the balls on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.


2. Make the sauce: In a medium pot set over medium heat, add the olive oil, onion, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook, using the wooden spoon to stir the onions often, until they are tender and translucent, about 2 minutes. Ask a parent or guardian to add the wine, then cook until the wine is nearly absorbed, 5 to 6 minutes. Then stir in the thyme sprigs, bay leaf, tomatoes and tomato paste. Turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for 1 hour, then stir in the basil. Turn off the heat and set aside.


3. Fry the meatballs: Add the olive oil to a cast-iron skillet set over medium-high heat. Heat the oil until it shimmers, about 2 minutes, then add the shaped meatballs (you may need to cook them in batches and in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil depending upon the size of your pan) and cook until brown on all sides, 10 to 15 minutes total. Use the tongs to transfer the meatballs to the warm sauce. Once all of the meatballs are cooked, return the sauce to a simmer and cook until the meatballs are cooked through, about 10 minutes.


4. Make the pasta: Fill a large pot with water, add the salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes, then drain the pasta into a colander, saving ¼ cup of pasta water (to thin the sauce, if needed).


5. Divide the spaghetti into four bowls. Top each with a few meatballs and some sauce. Finish with the Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and roughly chopped fresh basil. Enjoy!



by GL | 2/1/2016